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Garden to honor longtime parks employee


A memorial garden is under construction at the corner of Fountain Avenue and Cliff Park Drive to honor a former National Trail Parks and Recreation District employee who died last year.

The Diane Leach Memorial Garden is expected to be completed before Memorial Day.

Leach, a North High School graduate, worked at NTPRD for 30 years before she died unexpectedly last November.

National Trail horticulturist Steve Hawkins, who worked with Leach for 14 years, said he decided to turn one of the flower beds into a memorial for his former co-worker. Leach was a passionate gardener and Hawkins thought it would be a great way to honor her.

“We wanted to do something nice for a dedicated employee who served us for many years,” Hawkins said.

Sharon Leach, Diane Leach’s sister, said she has seen the planters Hawkins has planted around town, and knows the garden will be beautiful.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Leach said. “(Hawkins) wanted to do it because they were really good friends and Diane really loved gardening. I think it’s beautiful, and a wonderful thing he’s doing. It means a lot to me and our family.”

A memorial marker was added this week, while a bench and steps will be added from anonymous donations.

“Diane was a very big proponent of parks and recreation in our community so we thought we wanted to do something for her at the park that could be seen by others, and also a place where her family could plant things,” National Trail CEO Leann Castillo said.

The garden is also located near the Wittenberg University Alpha Delta Pi house, where Leach served as adviser. She was a member of the sorority at her alma mater, Hanover College.

“We thought it would be a great way to have those girls involved as well,” Castillo said.

During her time at National Trail, Leach played a key role on the golf courses, softball fields and at Splash Zone Family Aquatic Center, which she helped run.

The district’s managing golf professional Tim Grieser said Leach ran the scoring at the annual Men’s and Women’s City Am golf tournaments. The events “couldn’t have gone as smooth without her,” Grieser said.

“I never worried about any of the scoring,” Grieser said. ” She handled communications for us. I knew she had it all done. It was a huge relief on my end. It’s a huge void to try to fill. Any memorial for her is a great thing.”


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